Bugsy Malone-Movie Review

Bugsy Malone Film Review

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Bugsy Malone

Dir. Alan Parker
USA 1976 35mm Running time: 90 min.

Parker's known for some pretty ambitious musical projects, but Bugsy Malone seemed like a half-baked idea even for him. That's not to say it's bad -- on the contrary, the films absurd casting gimmick works, and lends it instant cult appeal.

With laconic Damon Runyan-style delivery, mob boss Fat Sam's narration opens the picture, which is set in the midst of an all-out prohibition-era gang war.

When Fat Sam's rival Ivy League gang invents new weapon called a splurge gun -- basically an efficient means of pie-tossing -- the womanizing Bugsy Malone (Scott Baio) is hit up to operate as a gopher and middle-man in Sam's attempts to appropriate the coveted weapon.

The film is a veritable treasure-trove of remarkable kiddie talent, and the young cast carries the film effortlessly. The humor has something of a Muppet Movie sensibility with its choreographed slapstick sequences, and the prepubescent cast pretending to be adults isn't quite as disconcerting in itself as Jodie Foster's charged performance as gun moll Tallulah (or the little black kid pretending to be Paul Williams !?).

Almost 30 years later, the film still holds up, with inspired set design, costuming and musical compositions that place it among the finest of unsung '70s anomalies.

Kier-La Janisse